Ancient Roman Farmers

Farming in ancient Rome was one of the most important and most recognized occupations.

Back then, citizens of ancient Rome did several jobs to make ends meet, but we all know everyone needs to feed! as a result of this, farming became a peculiar occupation among the ancient  Romans.

A great percentage of Romans back then who stayed in the countryside practiced farming. Since that was the major occupation they had, they did it with all dedication and focus.

Most of them do get up as early as possible every day to carry out their various task and also work on their farms.

So many farmers back then owned farmland and in some cases, so many were employed for large scale farming.


  • Sizes of farms in ancient Rome varied and they were categorized into 3 types which include various types of farms and they were also measured in Iugera was the standard unit used for land measurement. The first category of farm sizes includes small farms which ranged 18 to 108 Iugera, the second category is the medium farm sizes which ranged from 800 to 500 Iugera. The third category was the large estates which were also referred to as Latifundia measured to be more than 500 iugera.
  • During the late Republican period, there was an increase in the number of Latifundia. Rich Romans purchased lands from the small scale farmers who had difficulty trying to make ends meet.
  • The ancient Roman farmers skimmed milk out of cows and they also employed mules and oxens to carry out heavy tasks on their farmlands. Cheese and hides were gotten from sheeps and goats respectively. However, their hides were also used to produce several materials. Farmers practiced beekeeping for sugar production and certain percentage of Roman farmers reared snails for special meals.
  • The ancient Roman farmers practiced 4 types of farm management systems which include; farming carried out by farm owners and their family members; farming done by tenants and farm owners in which the tenants and farm owners share the farm outputs; Farming done by slaves owned by noblemen and were supervised by slave managers.
  • There are 3 major ways by which upper-class and lower-class citizens do acquire land for agriculture. The most recognised and famous way to acquire land was through buying of land which the person interested in getting the land pays for it.

Another means of land acquisition was by heritage. Lands were passed on from parents to offsprings. The third way by which one could own land was when it is being presented as a reward to powerful soldiers who went for war.

  • Farmers were always careful and conscious when it comes to choosing lands for farming practices. Most of them chose to own their lands far away from war zones so they wouldn’t lose their farmlands to enemies.
  • The ancient Roman farmers encountered so many problems which include unreliable weather conditions, war occurrences on farmlands which often led to destruction of farm products, decrease in soil fertility and loss of lives. They also faced problems from slaves who often revolt against the orders of their masters.
  • Several farming tools and mechanisms were employed when it comes to farming in ancient Rome. They include the use of crude tools like spades, hoes built from wood or iron. Roman farmers used aqueducts when it comes to watering germinating plants. Sickles were used to cut grasses, barley and wheat.


  • Question: why did most farmers in ancient Rome prefer their farmlands far away from war zones?
    Answer: Most farmers preferred their farmlands far away from war zones in order not to lose it to enemies in times of war.
  • Question: what is the standard unit for land measurement used by farmers in ancient Rome?
    Answers: The land measurement unit called the Iugera.
  • Question: How many ways can one acquire land in ancient Rome?
    Answer: one can acquire a land in 2 different ways.
  • Question: In what period did the increase in the number of Latifundia occur?
    Answer: it occurred in the late Republican period.